The First Four begins tonight, and the Round of 64 is somehow only two days away. I’ll have my entire bracket filled out as we get closer. Let’s dive into my Final Four picks until then, breaking down each region with a couple of surprises.
Keep in mind, there are 11 first-round games with a spread under a possession. The last two tournaments delivered 10 of them combined. You can digest that one of two ways; either we’ll see our fair share of upsets, or there’s a market flaw.
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Region-By-Region Final Four Picks
Click on the odds below to bet on these teams to reach the Final Four, and continue the chatter in our Discord betting community, as we dig into all of the games in the dance. Stay up-to-date on the top-68 programs with my college basketball power rankings.
For national championship futures, head to our NCAA Tournament Title Odds page.
West: No. 5 UConn Huskies ()
A pair of traits are common in a Final Four contender — turnover-free guard play and the ability to control the tempo.
The Huskies present a dynamic floor general in RJ Cole, who’s capable of carrying them offensively while rarely delivering a miscue. They also racked up the Big East’s second-highest rebounding rate at both ends, allowing them to utilize an interchangeable pace and generate second-chance opportunities.
Gonzaga () is the odds-on favorite to win this region and cut down the nets come April (). Nevertheless, I’ve been a believer in Dan Hurley’s squad all season, and it boasts the athleticism to give the Bulldogs fits at nearly every position if the two programs faced off in the Sweet 16. That’s been an area of concern for the Zags over the last two seasons.
In order to advance that far, UConn must knock off New Mexico State and the winner of Arkansas-Vermont. If Tyrese Martin & Co. are on from behind the arc during their time in Buffalo, N.Y., they’ll earn their shot.
On top of the matchups themselves, you’re getting value in the number because of Gonzaga’s position in the market.
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East: No. 2 Kentucky Wildcats ()
Similar to Connecticut, Kentucky showcases an elite rebounding edge with 6-foot-9 center Oscar Tshiebwe — the Wooden Award favorite at the end of the regular season. John Calipari’s backcourt of TyTy Washington and Sahvir Wheeler appeared to find their footing after dealing with a myriad of injuries, too.
Although this region is a gauntlet, the Wildcats’ path to New Orleans is manageable if they can sneak past a tricky second-round contest against either Murray State or San Francisco. Calipari’s transition attack would give Purdue and Baylor fits if they met one or both of them along the way.
Moreover, the Bears’ post-up defense has taken a dip after Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua suffered a season-ending knee injury. An imposing back-to-the-basket big like Tshiebwe could have a field day.
That said, Calipari’s most pressing concern may be getting Kellan Grady’s jumper back on track. The 6-foot-5 guard owns a 22.7% clip from 3-point land in his last six games, and he’s the key to unlocking their perimeter offense.
I invested in the Wildcats at +3000 earlier in the season, yet the value within the current number has dried out.
South: No. 1 Arizona Wildcats ()
Ultimately, Arizona’s odds of coming out of this region hinge on the health of point guard Kerr Kriisa. He suffered a right ankle sprain in the Pac-12 tournament quarterfinals, and his status throughout tournament is unknown.
Assuming Kriisa misses a game or two, the Wildcats should be able to slip past Seton Hall or TCU in the Round of 32. The Pirates would be a more arduous matchup because of their stout rim protection, but the Wildcats’ length limits an opponent’s isolation efficiency, which Kevin Willard’s crew relies on. Seton Hall is also without healthy lead guard itself, lessening the likelihood of a potential upset.
I’m not sold enough on any of the other higher-seeded programs, either. Villanova and Illinois own a raw defensive efficiency outside of the top 80 while Tennessee possesses a similar ranking for its offense. Furthermore, Houston’s metrics are a bit flawed after notching a single Quadrant 1 victory to date.
Like the aforementioned Wildcats, though, I wouldn’t be racing to the window to back this number.
Midwest: No. 5 Iowa Hawkeyes ()
Another dark horse (albeit trendy) among Final Four picks. These aren’t your typical Hawkeyes, ranking No. 32 in Adjusted Defensive ShotQuality — ahead of the No. 1 seed Jayhawks.
With Fran McCaffrey mixing in a dose of ball pressure, it’s created a more reliable interior defense despite lacking a true rim protector. That was a key for Iowa against Purdue in the Big Ten tournament title game, and it would be critical in a potential Sweet 16 matchup against Kansas, as Bill Self’s attack revolves around dribble penetration and paint touches for David McCormack.
The Hawkeyes’ ultra-deep rotation supports their uptempo offense as well, especially if they’re in for a deep run. When Keegan Murray & Co. are clicking offensively, few opponents can match their explosiveness.
Even though I haven’t invested in Iowa, since this number dropped from +1800 over the last two weeks, they’re the look to win this region.
Good luck navigating the brackets and locking in your own Final Four picks and bets.